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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 19, 2021

Operation Leads to Conviction of 26 Brunswick County Defendants, Including Highest-Ranking Member of Bloods Street Gang in Brunswick County

BOLIVIA, N.C. – Beginning in 2017, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina partnered with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to investigate and prosecute violent Bloods gang members and high-volume drug traffickers operating in the Brunswick County area.

The ensuing investigation, named Operation Hell Swamp, led to the successful investigation, prosecution, and conviction of 26 defendants from the Brunswick County area.

During the investigation, agents seized fentanyl, heroin, crack cocaine, and multiple kilograms of cocaine. Agents also seized more than a dozen firearms.

Some of the defendants are described in detail below.

Nicholas Shamar Griffin described himself as the highest-ranking member of the Bloods street gang in Brunswick County. He was a significant cocaine and crack cocaine trafficker, who was also willing to use violence. While on federal supervised release for a prior federal conviction, Griffin shot a man during a gang-related dispute. Griffin was sentenced to more than 29 years’ imprisonment.

Covia Dzell Smith was a violent, high-level member of the Bloods street gang. The investigation showed that Smith committed several acts of violence, including a shooting. He was charged with drug trafficking offenses, was convicted at trial of all counts. He was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.

Spencer Bryant was found responsible for distributing approximately fourteen kilograms of cocaine base in the Brunswick County area, and he was sentenced to more than 17 years’ imprisonment.

Andreis Jenrette was found in possession of cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, and a loaded firearm. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Deonte Bigelow and Courtnae Wiley were arrested while transporting one kilogram of cocaine, which had a street value of approximately $35,000.  In total, Bigelow was found responsible for trafficking approximately 28 kilograms of cocaine. Bigelow was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Below is a summary of the results of the cases in this investigation:

  • Nicholas Shamar Griffin, 7:18-CR-00174-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack)
    • Sentence: 350 months’ imprisonment
  • Covia Dzell Smith, 7:18-cr-00093-D-1:
    • Convicted at trial of distribution of cocaine, marijuana
    • Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment
  • Freeman Hankins Jr., 7:17-cr-00110-BR-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Sentence: 75 months’ imprisonment
  • Deontray Tremell Bryant, 7:17-cr-00150-FL-1:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin
    • Sentence: 70 months’ imprisonment
  • Deonte Xavier Bigelow, 7:17-cr-00165-BR-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine
    • Sentence: 120 months’ imprisonment
  • Courtnae Shantae Wiley, 7:17-cr-00165-BR-2:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine
    • Sentence: 5 years’ probation
  • Delmas C. Gause, 7:18-cr-00005-BR-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and a quantity of cocaine
    • Sentence: 71 months’ imprisonment
  • Michael Montray Frink, 7:18-cr-00033-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Sentence: 117 months’ imprisonment
  • Alex Alterick Hamilton, 7:18-cr-00034-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment
  • Ryan Alexander Stewart, 7:18-cr-00040-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base
    • Sentence: 60 months’ imprisonment
  • Victor Demetrious Watson, 7:18-cr-00035-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Sentence: 120 months’ imprisonment
  • Terrance Leon Washington, 7:18-cr-00039-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to distribution of cocaine and cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine
    • Sentence: 60 months’ imprisonment
  • Wayne Levanughn King, 7:18-cr-00056-BR-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack)
    • Sentence: 120 months’ imprisonment
  • Rodrick Bryant, 7:18-cr-00081-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack) and a quantity of marijuana
    • Sentence: 42 months’ imprisonment
  • Zane Alan Williams, 7:18-cr-00146-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine
    • Sentence: 120 months’ imprisonment
  • Andreis Jenrette, 7:18-cr-00175-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and a quantity of cocaine base (crack); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment
  • Hester Griffin, 7:18-cr-00174-D-2:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine
    • Sentence: time served, then six months’ imprisonment for violation of supervised release
  • Gregory Orlando Gause, 7:19-cr-00041-FL-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); distribution of a quantity of cocaine base (crack)
    • Sentence: 28 months’ imprisonment
  • Spencer Lamont Bryant, 5:19-cr-00113-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; distribution of a quantity of cocaine base
    • Sentence: 210 months’ imprisonment
  • Bruce James Daniels, Sr.:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; distribute of a quantity of cocaine base
    • Sentence: 39 months’ imprisonment
  • Anthony Junior Bell, 7:19-cr-00095-FL-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession of a firearm by a felon
    • Sentence: 66 months’ imprisonment
  • Malcolm Jackson, 7:19-cr-00113-BO-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base (crack)
    • Sentence: 144 months’ imprisonment
  • Dev Vontrai Bland, 7:20-CR-00082-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
    • Sentence: 151 months’ imprisonment
  • Shawn Deontae Hewett, 7:20-cr-00162-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and a quantity of cocaine base (crack); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime
    • Not yet sentenced
  • Oneisha Williams, 7:20-cr-00162-D-2:
    • Pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (crack)
    • Not yet sentenced
  • Gregory Lee Bellamy, 7:20-cr-00164-D-1:
    • Pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine; distribution of a quantity of heroin, cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
    • Not yet sentenced

G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) investigated the cases and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted the cases.

Valuable assistance was also provided by the District Attorney’s office for Brunswick, Columbus, and Bladen counties.

Operation Hell Swamp is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

This case is also part of the United States Attorney’s Office’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement. For additional information about this initiative, click here https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/tbnc.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for the case numbers listed above.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Updated August 19, 2021